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California Changes Law to Allow Food Trucks at Rest Stops

Also: Boba Guys reopens in Hayes Valley, and more news to start your day

Food trucks like Da Poke Man can now apply to operate out of California’s rest stops
Off The Grid/Instagram

California’s hungry freeway drivers will soon have a dining option besides vending machines.

Meals available at most of California’s rest stops have long been limited to jerky, chips, and other vending machine fare, as state law prohibits the sale of commercial food at rest areas along our freeways. California Governor Gavin Newsom suspended that law via executive order last week, KPIX reports, and now Caltrans (the state agency that oversees our roads) is accepting applications from food truck operators to serve hungry truck drivers and motorists.

The law change will help truck drivers who are transporting goods, Shawn Yadon, the CEO of the California Trucking Association tells KPIX, as “access to a warm meal is as essential.” The new legislation will also provide “additional business opportunities for food trucks hit hard by stay-at-home health orders,” Caltrans director Toks Omishakin says.

Bay City News reports that the trucks can only operate in the regions in which they have health permits, which means that of the 86 rest areas that allow the new vendors, those in remote areas might still be truck-free. Other areas like San Francisco don’t have rest areas that can be served by our multitude of food trucks (though there are stops in Sausalito and Burlingame that are up for grabs). Applicants can get more information here, fill out an application here, and must submit the application to the correct district office, which can be found here.

The food truck rest area program will run through June 15, a date before which many Californians hope they’ll again be able to safely hit the road. When the truck program is up and running, drive-and-diners will be able to see what food trucks are where via the Caltrans map of state rest stops (click here and in the QuickMap “options” dropdown, pick “rest areas”), which will be updated with information on food truck locations as vendors are added.

And in other news...

  • Todd Corboy was a chef at upscale vegan spot Wildseed, but after its parent company’s massive wave of layoffs during the coronavirus crisis, “it struck me being one of the 154 left and I was actually one of the newer hires. My heart just wasn’t in it at one point and I wanted to find a way to pay it forward.” Now he’s heading up the kitchen at Food Runners, a non-profit dedicated to feeding meal-insecure people and decreasing food waste. [SF Chronicle]
  • Chefs from high-end spots like SPQR, SingleThread, and Manresa explain how they’ve altered menus and offerings to cater to the at-home crowd. [Barrons]
  • Tea chain Boba Guys temporarily shuttered all its stores last month, but now it’s reopening its Hayes Valley location with very specific rules that require temperature checks for employees and remote ordering only. [ABC 7]
  • Veronica Shinzato, the co-owner of Peruvian spot La Fina Estampa and a candidate for District 1 Supervisor, has penned an op-ed about the plight of family-owned restaurants, many of which don’t qualify for for federal or local support. [SF Examiner]
  • The Chinatown Community Development Center is hustling to feed the neighborhood’s multitude of “single rooms occupancy” (SRO) residents, many of whom have a limited ability to cook at home. [KPIX]
  • Berkeley’s gluten-free sourdough company Bread SRSLY is doing solid business during the crisis, as folks with allergies haven’t always been able to find safe foods at stores. [Berkeleyside]
  • At Safeway’s huge NorCal warehouse, 51 workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and one has died of the virus. [SF Chronicle]
  • Some good news! Jackson, a five-year-old dog who in December was stolen from a Bernal Heights grocery store, just turned up safe in SoCal. [KRON 4]
  • Emeryville-based Grocery Outlet saw sales jump by 25 percent this year, a likely result of buyers eager to stock up during the pandemic. [SF Business Times]


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